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Roman Catholicism and Liberty (Ecumenical)
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church ^ | October 2006 | D. G. Hart

Posted on 10/28/2009 12:33:39 PM PDT by Gamecock

A funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century. Roman Catholics went from being the most un-American Christians in the United States to one of the nation's most supportive religious groups.

Only four decades ago, John F. Kennedy, while running for President, had to explain to Protestants that he would not put his allegiance to the Pope above his vow to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Today, conservative Protestants not only see nothing wrong with, but take encouragement from, Roman Catholics providing the most conservative interpretations of the Constitution as justices on the Supreme Court. The reversal of American Protestant attitudes toward Roman Catholics during the second half of the twentieth century was truly remarkable.

For most of the nation's history, Roman Catholics were the religious group most feared by American Protestants. Anti-Catholicism in America rested on a constellation of ideas that linked the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and American democracy. According to this view, Protestantism was chiefly responsible for the advancement of political liberty and cultural progress. It stood for freedom, open inquiry, learning, and impartiality, while Roman Catholicism symbolized the opposite: tyranny, ignorance, superstition, and bigotry.

Protestant Attacks and the Catholic Response

An early example of American Protestant prejudice against Roman Catholicism was Lyman Beecher's A Plea for the West (1835). When this New England Congregationalist moved to Ohio to preside over Lane Seminary, he became alarmed by the large number of Catholics who were streaming into the American heartland. One of his main objections to Roman Catholicism was the papacy's refusal to acknowledge the separation of church and state. In his view, Catholicism could not sustain a free and democratic society. He wrote:

The Sabbath, and the preaching of the gospel, are Heaven's consecrated instrumentality for the efficacious administration of the government of mind in a happy social state. By these only does the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his beams; and ignorance, and vice, and superstition encamp around evangelical institutions, to run in wherever their light and power is extinct. (pp. 41-42)

Beecher never spelled out the precise relationship between Protestantism and American politics. For most American Protestants, the connections between Protestant faith and American liberty were so intimate as to be obvious. Consequently, Beecher believed that Roman Catholics, simply by living in the United States, would recognize the authoritarianism of their own faith. Here is the way he put this hope:

If [Roman Catholics] associated with republicans, the power of caste would wear away. If they mingled in our schools, the republican atmosphere would impregnate their minds. If they scattered, unassociated, the attrition of circumstances would wear off their predilections and aversions. If they could read the Bible, and might and did, their darkened intellect would brighten, and their bowed down mind would rise. If they dared to think for themselves, the contrast of protestant independence with their thraldom, would awaken the desire of equal privileges, and put an end to an arbitrary clerical dominion over trembling superstitious minds. (p. 118)

Fifty years later, Josiah Strong, another Congregationalist minister, likewise asserted the dependence of American liberty on the right kind of faith in his popular book Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (1885). In fact, the ties between Protestantism and political liberty informed the most aggressive anti-Catholic books of the twentieth century, such as Paul Blanshard's American Freedom and Catholic Power (1949).

Conservative Presbyterians were not immune from this fear of and hostility to Rome. In his popular book, Roman Catholicism (1962), Lorraine Boettner identified Roman Catholicism as one of the two "totalitarian systems" threatening the United States. For Boettner, Rome's teaching was even more dangerous than Communism because "it covers its real nature with the cloak of religion" (p. 3).

This form of anti-Catholicism, however, proved to be no match for a Roman Catholic hierarchy that after 1960 signaled a different attitude to American forms of government. The Second Vatican Council, for instance, mandated that the church engage the modern world, dropped Rome's inveterate hostility to democracy, and recognized the fundamental right of freedom of conscience. Even more noticeably, John Paul II was an ally in the defeat of Communism and the defense of Christianity in a world teaming with immorality and secularism. Consequently, the last fifty years of Roman Catholic history have proved the traditional American Protestant critique of Rome to be woefully off target.

Protestant Confusion about Liberty

American Presbyterians should have known better than to identify Protestantism with American political ideals, if only through reading the Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter 20 on Christian liberty is straightforward in distinguishing liberty in Christ (spiritual) from political freedom (civil):

The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind. (20.1)

Liberty in Christ has nothing to do with the sort of political freedom that the American War for Independence granted to American citizens. The Confession adds:

And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. (20.4)

As much as this statement may have raised questions about the propriety of the events of 1776, it was just as strong in declaring that political and religious freedom are distinct matters. The Christian suffering under the greatest form of political tyranny is still the beneficiary of the greatest expression of freedom ever known to the human race.

The mistake that American Protestants made in opposing Rome was not to worry about Roman Catholic teaching about liberty. The liberties that believers enjoy in Christ are substantial and lead them to appreciate all the benefits of redemption. The problem was to confuse liberty in Christ with political freedom. American Protestants compounded this mistake by attacking Roman Catholicism for resisting the forms of liberal democracy that arose from the revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789). Ultimately, this confusion has led many American Protestants to lessen their opposition to Rome, now that the Vatican appears to be a valuable partner in the defense of the West and its Christian heritage. Why be anti-Catholic when Catholics are defending the social standards and political institutions that American Protestants consider to be under attack from liberal secularists?

Despite the recent thaw in relations between American Protestants and Roman Catholics, Protestants still need to be anti-Catholic for reasons having very much to do with liberty. The liberty that Protestants should defend, however, has little to do with the United States or its political ideals. Instead, the liberty for which Protestants must fight is the freedom that believers enjoy through the once-for-all redeeming work of Christ. As the Heidelberg Catechism so eloquently puts it, our sole comfort is that Christ has "fully paid for all [our] sins with his precious blood and has set [us] free from the tyranny of the devil" (Q. 1).

Rome tries to offer a version of Christian liberty, but in its teaching about merit, the Virgin Mary, purgatory, and the accomplishments of saints, it yields a version of freedom that is ultimately spiritual bondage. This is so because Rome's understanding of salvation still does not acknowledge the complete sufficiency of Christ for freedom from sin, guilt, death, and the devil. Thus, American Protestants should continue to oppose Roman Catholicism, not because of American conceptions of political freedom, but because of the Reformation's notion of spiritual liberty.


TOPICS: Ecumenism
KEYWORDS: gospel; liberty
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1 posted on 10/28/2009 12:33:41 PM PDT by Gamecock
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...
Ping


2 posted on 10/28/2009 12:34:50 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Religion Moderator; NYer; Salvation; MarkBsnr; trisham; wagglebee; netmilsmom; Judith Anne
A funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century. Roman Catholics went from being the most un-American Christians in the United States to one of the nation's most supportive religious groups.

An ecumenical tag on an article that starts with as antagonistic a statement as this?

Please.

3 posted on 10/28/2009 12:36:57 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Religion Moderator
Rome tries to offer a version of Christian liberty, but in its teaching about merit, the Virgin Mary, purgatory, and the accomplishments of saints, it yields a version of freedom that is ultimately spiritual bondage.

Ecumenical? No antagonism?

4 posted on 10/28/2009 12:38:24 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock

just another sore loser.

Lurking’


5 posted on 10/28/2009 12:39:40 PM PDT by LurkingSince'98 (Catholics=John 6:53-58 Everyone else=John 6:60-66)
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To: Petronski; Religion Moderator
Actually, the conclusion is even more inflammatory:

Rome tries to offer a version of Christian liberty, but in its teaching about merit, the Virgin Mary, purgatory, and the accomplishments of saints, it yields a version of freedom that is ultimately spiritual bondage. This is so because Rome's understanding of salvation still does not acknowledge the complete sufficiency of Christ for freedom from sin, guilt, death, and the devil. Thus, American Protestants should continue to oppose Roman Catholicism, not because of American conceptions of political freedom, but because of the Reformation's notion of spiritual liberty.

6 posted on 10/28/2009 12:40:50 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee
The raison d'etre of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church seems to be hatred of the Catholic Church.
7 posted on 10/28/2009 12:42:49 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski; Religion Moderator
Ecumenical? No antagonism?

No more so than this: The “Necessity” of Being Catholic (Ecumenical Caucus)

8 posted on 10/28/2009 12:43:15 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Petronski
More leeway is granted to the article than to the reply posts on "ecumenical" threads in the Religion Forum.

I take a wait-and-see attitude when the article starts out iffy.

9 posted on 10/28/2009 12:44:14 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Religion Moderator

Iffy.

You’ve got to be kidding.


10 posted on 10/28/2009 12:45:02 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski
The raison d'etre of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church seems to be hatred of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps that explains their utter inability to attract new members.

11 posted on 10/28/2009 12:45:12 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Religion Moderator; Petronski
I take a wait-and-see attitude when the article starts out iffy.

Did you get to this part yet?:

Despite the recent thaw in relations between American Protestants and Roman Catholics, Protestants still need to be anti-Catholic for reasons having very much to do with liberty.

12 posted on 10/28/2009 12:47:16 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Gamecock; Petronski; Religion Moderator

That’s not even in the same league.


13 posted on 10/28/2009 12:48:35 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Gamecock

That thread is a Catholic talking about what Catholics believe.

This thread is a Calvinist squawking about what Catholics believe.


14 posted on 10/28/2009 12:49:09 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: wagglebee; Religion Moderator

I read that as doctrinal opposition, not hating Catholics..


15 posted on 10/28/2009 12:49:09 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Gamecock
I read that as doctrinal opposition, not hating Catholics...

Disappointed?

16 posted on 10/28/2009 12:49:44 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski

So show me where the author is wrong.

Isn’t that the point of ecumenical threads? To reach an understanding without attacks among FReepers?


17 posted on 10/28/2009 12:50:27 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: wagglebee; Petronski

You know, if everyone would just become Missouri Synod Lutheran, we could all just get together over sweet rolls and coffee.


18 posted on 10/28/2009 12:50:58 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Gamecock

How can it be antagonistic when it concludes that one does not have to be Catholic to make it to heaven?


19 posted on 10/28/2009 12:51:25 PM PDT by netmilsmom (Psalm 109:8 - Let his days be few; and let another take his office)
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To: Gamecock

Catholics un-American?

We’re not supposed to find anything wrong with that?


20 posted on 10/28/2009 12:51:26 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski

Why?

I have Catholic friends. On occasion I have even seen them in Calvinist churches.


21 posted on 10/28/2009 12:51:26 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: wagglebee; Petronski; Gamecock
Give it a try. See if you can have a non-antagonistic discussion about whether or not Protestants should confront Catholic beliefs and vice versa.

I'll check back later on and see how you are doing.

22 posted on 10/28/2009 12:51:57 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: Mr. Lucky

I like sweet rolls.


24 posted on 10/28/2009 12:52:41 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock; Religion Moderator; Petronski
I read that as doctrinal opposition, not hating Catholics.

Nonsense, Free Republic is first and foremost a CONSERVATIVE forum, the thesis of your thread is that Catholics OPPOSE LIBERTY and that Protestants should continue to be "anti-Catholic" because of it.

25 posted on 10/28/2009 12:53:31 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Religion Moderator
See if you can have a non-antagonistic discussion about whether or not Protestants should confront Catholic beliefs and vice versa.

The opportunity for that fails in the second sentence of this thread, which is utterly antagonistic in its premise.

26 posted on 10/28/2009 12:53:49 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski
If you read the article carefully you will see the author is talking about a historical perspective.

Not a reality.

27 posted on 10/28/2009 12:54:54 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Gamecock

I’ve often wondered about the relationship of the founders to Catholicism. Natural Rights, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, come to us primarily from Socrates through Aristotle and then St. Thomas Aquinas. Looking back one would think there would be a natural affinity between the principles of the founders and Catholic Church, but this affinity has only come to light recently.


28 posted on 10/28/2009 12:55:28 PM PDT by ALPAPilot
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To: Religion Moderator; Petronski; wagglebee

Please see my #27.

The thread does no such thing. It points out a misunderstanding of a previous generation, and the perception that some may have.

The thesis is what separates Catholics and Protestants, and that is doctrine.

Interestingly no one is addressing that.


29 posted on 10/28/2009 12:58:04 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Gamecock; Petronski
If you read the article carefully you will see the author is talking about a historical perspective.

FALSE!

Despite the recent thaw in relations between American Protestants and Roman Catholics, Protestants still need to be anti-Catholic for reasons having very much to do with liberty.

No educated person would conclude that the phrase, "still need to be anti-Catholic," is talking about historical perspective.

30 posted on 10/28/2009 12:58:19 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Gamecock
If you read the article carefully...

I already have.

The second sentence is a statement of fact. To pretend it is not meant as a discussion of his view of reality is ludicrous.

31 posted on 10/28/2009 12:58:41 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: ALPAPilot

Very good point.

Though there has been a fairly strong case made that the Declaration of Independence is a Calvinist document.

I suppose that the the Reformers were students of the church fathers and did not throw out everything BL. (Before Luther)


32 posted on 10/28/2009 1:00:56 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Petronski
Yes, but then the 3rd sentence reads:

The reversal of American Protestant attitudes toward Roman Catholics during the second half of the twentieth century was truly remarkable.

33 posted on 10/28/2009 1:02:25 PM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Gamecock; Petronski; Religion Moderator
No more so than this: The “Necessity” of Being Catholic (Ecumenical Caucus)

Yeah. I was told the other day that that thread - whose whole premise is that you need to convert to Roman Catholicism else you're not a Christian - was "ecumenical."

An odd definition of "ecumenical", but hey, if that's how they're defining it, I'll roll with it.

34 posted on 10/28/2009 1:02:40 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (There are only two REAL conservatives in America - myself, and my chosen Presidential candidate)
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To: Gamecock
Interestingly no one is addressing that.

Baloney.

I addressed directly in post 4 the author's lies about the doctrines of Catholicism.

The thesis is what separates Catholics and Protestants, and that is doctrine.

The article contrasts protestant doctrines with the typical Orthodox Presbyterian lies about Catholicism.

35 posted on 10/28/2009 1:03:31 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock
...there has been a fairly strong case made that the Declaration of Independence is a Calvinist document.

Strong smelling.

36 posted on 10/28/2009 1:04:19 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock; Petronski
The reversal of American Protestant attitudes toward Roman Catholics during the second half of the twentieth century was truly remarkable.

And obviously displeasing to the author:

Despite the recent thaw in relations between American Protestants and Roman Catholics, Protestants still need to be anti-Catholic for reasons having very much to do with liberty.

37 posted on 10/28/2009 1:04:31 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Gamecock
Anti-Catholicism in America rested on a constellation of ideas that linked the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and American democracy. According to this view, Protestantism was chiefly responsible for the advancement of political liberty and cultural progress. It stood for freedom, open inquiry, learning, and impartiality, while Roman Catholicism symbolized the opposite: tyranny, ignorance, superstition, and bigotry....

....Conservative Presbyterians were not immune from this fear of and hostility to Rome. In his popular book, Roman Catholicism (1962), Lorraine Boettner identified Roman Catholicism as one of the two "totalitarian systems" threatening the United States. For Boettner, Rome's teaching was even more dangerous than Communism because "it covers its real nature with the cloak of religion" (p. 3)....

....The mistake that American Protestants made in opposing Rome was not to worry about Roman Catholic teaching about liberty. The liberties that believers enjoy in Christ are substantial and lead them to appreciate all the benefits of redemption. The problem was to confuse liberty in Christ with political freedom. American Protestants compounded this mistake by attacking Roman Catholicism for resisting the forms of liberal democracy that arose from the revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789)....

....Rome tries to offer a version of Christian liberty, but in its teaching about merit, the Virgin Mary, purgatory, and the accomplishments of saints, it yields a version of freedom that is ultimately spiritual bondage. This is so because Rome's understanding of salvation still does not acknowledge the complete sufficiency of Christ for freedom from sin, guilt, death, and the devil. Thus, American Protestants should continue to oppose Roman Catholicism, not because of American conceptions of political freedom, but because of the Reformation's notion of spiritual liberty.

Ping for later comment

38 posted on 10/28/2009 1:05:39 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
...whose whole premise is that you need to convert to Roman Catholicism else you're not a Christian...

That is a grotesque distortion of the actual article.

39 posted on 10/28/2009 1:06:58 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski
The article contrasts protestant doctrines with the typical Orthodox Presbyterian lies about Catholicism.

And this is a device that totalitarianism has used throughout history, the conviction of the innocent based upon charges that the totalitarians fabricated. It's odd that an author who fancies himself a defender of liberty is actually resorting to the methods of Hitler.

40 posted on 10/28/2009 1:08:55 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Gamecock
...Rome's inveterate hostility to democracy...

If he is referring to the Catholic Church in this phrase, D.G. Hart is a liar.

41 posted on 10/28/2009 1:10:47 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski
If he is referring to the Catholic Church in this phrase, D.G. Hart is a liar.

To the author's credit he probably assumed that this would only be read by other anti-Catholic bigots, I don't think he expected anyone to actually challenge his thesis.

42 posted on 10/28/2009 1:13:05 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee
...the conviction of the innocent based upon charges that the totalitarians fabricated...

Yes, precisely.

Sure, you might not hate the Jews now, citizen, but sit and watch this film and you can learn to hate them because of the (false) things we're about to tell you.

43 posted on 10/28/2009 1:13:38 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski
That is a grotesque distortion of the actual article.

Sure.

44 posted on 10/28/2009 1:14:32 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (There are only two REAL conservatives in America - myself, and my chosen Presidential candidate)
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To: Petronski; Gamecock
"A funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century. Roman Catholics went from being the most un-American Christians in the United States to one of the nation's most supportive religious groups."

This news will come as a shock to my ancestors who fought in the Civil War in the 1800s as Americans.
And to Charles Carroll of Carrolton who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

See Fallacy of False Generalization for Further Information.

Catholics of U.S. citizenship, generally speaking, were not "un-American" when
they planted all of those crosses in the U.S. cemetery in Normandy in World War II.

Although Catholics had been in the English colonies in North America since the 1600s, the bulk of Catholic emigration occurred in the 1840s, quite a while
before "on the way to the 21st century." So, a funny thing happened to the study
of History in certain non-Catholic circles somewhere on the way to the 21st century.

Deweyites in the NEA again perhaps.

45 posted on 10/28/2009 1:14:46 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: wagglebee
To the author's credit he probably assumed that this would only be read by other anti-Catholic bigots...

Considering that it was posted on the Machenite website, it was a relatively-wise assumption.

46 posted on 10/28/2009 1:14:46 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock; Petronski

Sorry to break the news to you,dear brother, but the Catholic Church understood the meaning of TRUE Liberty and it does not exactly match the founding fathers of this country

From Pope Leo XIII
Libertas
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas_en.html
Excerpt
As the Catholic Church declares in the strongest terms the simplicity, spirituality, and immortality of the soul, so with unequalled constancy and publicity she ever also asserts its freedom. These truths she has always taught, and has sustained them as a dogma of faith, and whensoever heretics or innovators have attacked the liberty of man, the Church has defended it and protected this noble possession from destruction. History bears witness to the energy with which she met the fury of the Manichaeans and others like them; and the earnestness with which in later years she defended human liberty at the Council of Trent, and against the followers of Jansenius, is known to all. At no time, and in no place, has she held truce with fatalism.

5. Liberty, then, as We have said, belongs only to those who have the gift of reason or intelligence. Considered as to its nature, it is the faculty of choosing means fitted for the end proposed, for he is master of his actions who can choose one thing out of many. Now, since everything chosen as a means is viewed as good or useful, and since good, as such, is the proper object of our desire, it follows that freedom of choice is a property of the will, or, rather, is identical with the will in so far as it has in its action the faculty of choice. But the will cannot proceed to act until it is enlightened by the knowledge possessed by the intellect. In other words, the good wished by the will is necessarily good in so far as it is known by the intellect; and this the more, because in all voluntary acts choice is subsequent to a judgment upon the truth of the good presented, declaring to which good preference should be given. No sensible man can doubt that judgment is an act of reason, not of the will. The end, or object, both of the rational will and of its liberty is that good only which is in conformity with reason.

6. Since, however, both these faculties are imperfect, it is possible, as is often seen, that the reason should propose something which is not really good, but which has the appearance of good, and that the will should choose accordingly. For, as the possibility of error, and actual error, are defects of the mind and attest its imperfection, so the pursuit of what has a false appearance of good, though a proof of our freedom, just as a disease is a proof of our vitality, implies defect in human liberty. The will also, simply because of its dependence on the reason, no sooner desires anything contrary thereto than it abuses its freedom of choice and corrupts its very essence. Thus it is that the infinitely perfect God, although supremely free, because of the supremacy of His intellect and of His essential goodness, nevertheless cannot choose evil; neither can the angels and saints, who enjoy the beatific vision. St. Augustine and others urged most admirably against the Pelagians that, if the possibility of deflection from good belonged to the essence or perfection of liberty, then God, Jesus Christ, and the angels and saints, who have not this power, would have no liberty at all, or would have less liberty than man has in his state of pilgrimage and imperfection. This subject is often discussed by the Angelic Doctor in his demonstration that the possibility of sinning is not freedom, but slavery. It will suffice to quote his subtle commentary on the words of our Lord: “Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin.”(3) “Everything,” he says, “is that which belongs to it a naturally. When, therefore, it acts through a power outside itself, it does not act of itself, but through another, that is, as a slave. But man is by nature rational. When, therefore, he acts according to reason, he acts of himself and according to his free will; and this is liberty. Whereas, when he sins, he acts in opposition to reason, is moved by another, and is the victim of foreign misapprehensions. Therefore, `Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin.’ “(4) Even the heathen philosophers clearly recognized this truth, especially they who held that the wise man alone is free; and by the term “wise man” was meant, as is well known, the man trained to live in accordance with his nature, that is, in justice and virtue.

7. Such, then, being the condition of human liberty, it necessarily stands in need of light and strength to direct its actions to good and to restrain them from evil. Without this, the freedom of our will would be our ruin. First of all, there must be law; that is, a fixed rule of teaching what is to be done and what is to be left undone. This rule cannot affect the lower animals in any true sense, since they act of necessity, following their natural instinct, and cannot of themselves act in any other way. On the other hand, as was said above, he who is free can either act or not act, can do this or do that, as he pleases, because his judgment precedes his choice. And his judgment not only decides what is right or wrong of its own nature, but also what is practically good and therefore to be chosen, and what is practically evil and therefore to be avoided. In other words, the reason prescribes to the will what it should seek after or shun, in order to the eventual attainment of man’s last end, for the sake of which all his actions ought to be performed. This ordination of reason is called law. In man’s free will, therefore, or in the moral necessity of our voluntary acts being in accordance with reason, lies the very root of the necessity of law. Nothing more foolish can be uttered or conceived than the notion that, because man is free by nature, he is therefore exempt from law. Were this the case, it would follow that to become free we must be deprived of reason; whereas the truth is that we are bound to submit to law precisely because we are free by our very nature. For, law is the guide of man’s actions; it turns him toward good by its rewards, and deters him from evil by its punishments.


47 posted on 10/28/2009 1:14:50 PM PDT by stfassisi ((The greatest gift God gives us is that of overcoming self"-St Francis Assisi)))
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Glad you agree.


48 posted on 10/28/2009 1:15:10 PM PDT by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock

There are two fundamental root issues why orthodox Christians will never be on the same page as Catholics:

1- hermeneutics (the method of biblical interpretation)
2- church history (Would the rel church that Christ died for, please stand up? The RCC, or the ones they persecuted; i.e., the Donatists, Montanists, Pauliscians, Priscillians, Nestorians, Cathars, Waldenses, Anabaptists, and others?

So there are two church histories in academia. Those two will always be at odds with each other: the RCC’s version, and that of orthodox Christians. I do not subscribe to Protestantism, because in doing so, one has to conclude that the Christian church suddenly “reformed”; and the lives of the faithful mentioned above had nothing to do with holding to the Scriptures, sowing the seeds for the Reformation in 1517, by their blood.

The 3rd possibility, is the LDS; but that doesn’t deserve serious consideration outside of Utah.

Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against his church (Mt 16). Accepting the RCC as the true church means that hell did prevail, and that the trail of blood of the faithful, their testimony, mean nothing.

As surely as God confronted Cain on murdering his brother Abel, from the blood crying out from the earth; so must the blood of those mentioned be reconciled (Ge 4:10). White washing it is unacceptable, it must be judged.

Ref: “The Torch of the Testimony”, John W Kennedy

However, in doing so, we must challenge Catholicism respectfully, in truth and in love. Protestants have wholly failed to present the case factually via scholarship, without using venom.


49 posted on 10/28/2009 1:25:14 PM PDT by Salvavida (Restoring the U.S.A. starts with filling the empty pew at a local Bible-believing church.)
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To: Petronski

Well, at least it wasn’t attributed to a “Roman Catholic website” and offered as “proof” that Catholics oppose liberty.


50 posted on 10/28/2009 1:26:25 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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